It doesn’t take much effort to find something to be negative about. Turn on the news, navigate to your favorite website, or just take a stroll through your neighborhood, and you’re apt to see or hear something that gets you down.
What many people don’t realize, though, is that positivity can be a response you can choose. In other words, if you want a more positive life, you have to embrace it.
Four Tips for Being More Positive
Positivity is the experience of pleasant emotions like joy, hope, gratitude, love, inspiration, and serenity. Negativity is the opposite, obviously.
Unfortunately, the human brain is more responsive to negative stimuli and tends to gravitate toward a pessimistic outlook with little effort. If you want to enjoy the sensation of positivity, you must pursue it with purpose.
“What matters is the ratio of positive to negative emotions over time,” Dr. Beth Cabrera writes. “We just have to make sure that we have more than enough positive experiences to counterbalance the negative ones. Research in positivity indicates that the benefits of positivity occur when our ratio of positive-to-negative emotions is at least 3-to-1.”
Everyone is different, of course, but the following four tips should help you swing the pendulum in the direction of affirmation.
1. Turn Off the News
Perhaps you often believe the world is a pretty bad place. Between school shootings, shark attacks, nasty political scandals, extreme weather, and violent crime in the streets, it feels as if the world is falling apart.
But the global picture may not be nearly as bad as you think. Your exposure to negative stories only makes you believe it is.
“How we think and develop our fears is directly related to how much information we are exposed to; when we see so much violence on our screens, it is easy to make the assumption that the world is more dangerous than it actually is,” InMyArea explains.
This principle is known as the availability heuristic. What you’re exposed to establishes your baseline reality. Whether this reality is accurate or not doesn’t matter. You think it is and that drives how you feel.
If you want to be more positive, start by turning off the news and avoiding the negative stories that fill TV programming. You might end up being slightly less informed, but you’ll be substantially less weighed down by negativity as well.
2. Log Off Social Media
Social media isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing. But what social media too often “inspires” us to feel and do isn’t healthy or helpful.
Social media is nothing more than a platform for comparison. We observe other people’s lives and can hardly avoid comparing our own lives to theirs. But most people tend to post only the good things that are happening in their lives, and we therefore can develop the feeling we aren’t keeping up.
Want to feel better about yourself? Get off social media and interact with individuals in the real world. Most likely, you’ll find most of your peers are doing pretty much like you are.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Stress Factors
What are the biggest triggers of stress and anxiety in your life? Try to identify them, and then determine whether you can reduce or eliminate them.
Debt is a common example. If credit card debt is weighing you down and heightening feelings of negativity, devote the next year to cracking down on your debts and reclaiming financial freedom. No doubt it’ll entail some sacrifices, but it will yield long-term security and happiness.
4. Practice Gratitude
Positivity can be achieved by practicing patterns of gratitude. It’s easy to get caught in the hustle of a busy life and forget to slow down and be thankful for all you have. Are you willing to pause and practice appreciation?
“Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the ‘big’ things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for,” Nancy F. Clark writes for Forbes.
Whether you make a list of the things you’re thankful for, practice mindfulness, or voice a simple “thank you,” you can find opportunities all around you.
Live Life By Your Rules
Life isn’t just what happens to you. The majority of your life experience is dictated by how you respond to what happens.
If you choose positivity over negativity, social and scientific research shows you’ll live a happier and healthier life. The choice is yours!